Forest School Goes from Strength to Strength at Churchfields the Village School
Forest School is now a well-established part of Churchfields. With their very own qualified Forest School Leader and dedicated Forest School areas on each site, every child at both the Monkton Farleigh and Atworth bases takes part in Forest School sessions regularly throughout the school year. For over four years now, Forest School has become a well-loved part of the curriculum at the school.
It’s quite a difficult task to describe what Forest School is. For starters, a forest is not an essential requirement! Fundamentally, a Forest School session is run outdoors, whatever the weather, provided that all involved are appropriately dressed. A different set of rules apply, in that the activities are planned with built-in flexibility to allow for children to develop ideas, skills and activities. They can often choose to work collaboratively or alone, and will probably get dirty! All activities have connections and relevance to the school curriculum subjects. For example children from ages 4 to 11 have recently taken part in sessions about shelter building, learning knot-tying techniques, making popcorn, bread and s’mores over an open fire, ‘Bogglin’ miniature home building, camouflage and hibernation activities, minibeast hunting and identifying, sawing and whittling wood to make bows and arrows, dream catchers, wands and kazoos.
‘Junior Forest Rangers’ is a relatively new development at Churchfields, where small groups of children come outside every week for a series of sessions, and keep a Forest Ranger logbook of their activities, learning and progress. At the end of the programme the children are presented with a certificate to acknowledge their Forest Ranger skills.
Forest School is not just an excuse for us all to have fun outdoors (although of course, we do!). Forest School fits perfectly with Churchfields’ drive to improve standards, develop the ‘whole’ child, and install in our children a love and respect for the environment in which they live. By taking part in Forest School regularly during their time at Churchfields, we believe our children will not only reach higher academic standards, but also develop more strongly as individuals, and have emotional and physical tools which will help them grow into successful adults.
Don’t just take my word for it, here are some comments from our pupils:
“Forest School is what makes children enjoy Churchfields and especially the Forest School teacher, who is very wonderful. In Forest School we enjoy making kazoos, making s’mores and having hot chocolate!”
“Forest School is an enjoyable part of school because you get to work with lots of different people who you don’t normally work with. Despite some of the weather conditions, the children still enjoy it. The astounding wildlife we see in Forest School is an incredible inspiration for our writing, which helps us to write better, more interesting stories.” – Christopher
“The fact is, Forest School is one of the best things in the school.” – Sam
“I speak for all of us when I say we learn a humongous amount from Forest School. For example, we learn teamwork, observation skills for studying plants, making fires and lots more.” – Harry
“There is always plenty to do. From whittling a stick to building a den. We make hot chocolate and s’mores, go on hunts and, if we are lucky, make a fire.” – Millie
“Mrs. Liddiard is one of the most outstanding teachers (teaches you fun stuff and makes it brilliant).” – Stuart
“We enjoy the crafting in Forest School, and we LOVE it when we are baking.” – Tippi
“It is the fun of school. When people get ready for school they go ‘oooh… is it a school day’. But when it is a Forest School day they say, ‘yay, it’s a Forest School day!’ We love it!.” – Bill
By Andrea Liddiard